With all the talk about the intimidating cost of an MBA degree, you may assume that you have to pay for every cent of it. And while you may be willing to do this, you should nevertheless familiarize yourself with opportunities for reducing the cost of the degree.
In our business school scholarships series, we’ll introduce you to some of the opportunities available to MBA applicants.
This week, we’ll focus on The Consortium fellowship.
Even if you’ve heard of The Consortium fellowship, you may not know what the application process entails or whether you qualify to gain membership. This post will describe the benefits of Consortium membership, what you get if you win a fellowship, and how to apply. Since the process is a tricky one, I’ll also go through a list of frequently asked questions at the end.
The mission of The Consortium:
“The mission of The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, an alliance of leading American business schools and some of our country’s top corporations, is to enhance diversity in business education and leadership by helping to reduce the serious underrepresentation of African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans in both our member schools’ enrollments and the ranks of management. We will achieve this mission by recruiting for graduate business education qualified U.S. citizens and U.S permanent residents who can demonstrate a commitment to The Consortium’s mission and can best assist The Consortium in pursuing this mission.”
What you get if you win a fellowship:
1. Network: Membership to the Consortium which affords access to approximately 75 corporate partners, admission to a special Orientation Program prior to the MBA, and a network of 6,000 Consortium alumni. (see question #11 below for more details about how this can help you with corporate recruiting)
2. Fellowship: 300 full-tuition scholarships are available annually for two years of full-time study. These scholarships also include all mandatory fees!
3. Common Application: Business school apps are generally long and require intense preparation. If you apply for the Consortium, one application will allow you to apply to up to 6 schools!
4. Tiered Application Fee: If you apply the traditional way, a school app can cost as much as $275 a pop. Apply through the Consortium, however, and apply to up to 2 member schools for $150, three schools for $200, four schools for $240, five for $275, and six for $300.
You are eligible if:
-You are applying for admission to up to 6 of the 17 Consortium schools (link here).
-You are African American, Hispanic American, Native American, a U.S citizen or a U.S permanent resident of any race or ethnicity (see question #1 below for more clarification).
-You demonstrate a commitment to The Consortium’s mission of “helping to reduce the serious underrepresentation of African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans in both Consortium member schools’ enrollments and the ranks of management.”
-You hold a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in the U.S or an equivalent degree from a foreign country.
How it works exactly:
1. You apply using the common app to up to 6 schools. At this point, you must rank your schools in order of preference. Later, all Consortium reps will gather in the same place to “duke” it out and determine which student will be awarded a fellowship at which school. Read this article from Poets & Quants to get a lowdown on the process.
2. Admissions decisions are made solely by the admissions committees at the member schools and are based on academic ability (GMAT/GRE, academic transcripts) and professional potential (career essay, resume, recommendations, and interview).
3. Admitted candidates are considered for membership in The Consortium. Note that if you successfully pass through Step 2, you do not automatically receive membership (it is definitely possible to receive a membership and not win a fellowship). Note also that if you pass through Step 2 and are granted membership, you must enroll in a membership school to enjoy that membership. In other words, membership is not transferable to non-Consortium schools. Whether or not you are admitted by the school is not affected by your decision to accept the membership or not. Understand also that application to the Consortium does not render you ineligible for other school-specific merit-based scholarships outside the Consortium.
4. Only one Consortium school may offer you the fellowship. You are first considered for the fellowship by your highest ranked school; if that school does not choose to award you, the option passes to your next highest ranked school to which you were admitted and so on. Thus, fellowship decisions are ultimately made by the admissions and scholarship committees at each school.
The Consortium Interview
ALL applicants are required to interview with a Consortium representative. Reps include member school admissions officers, Consortium alumni and Consortium students. All interviews are evaluated equally, so don’t fret if you are interviewing with a student (it’s not less official!). Only ONE official Consortium interview is required regardless of the number of schools to which you apply.
*Note that you may still have to interview with someone from the schools to which you are applying if an interview is required for admission at that school.
In summary, here is the general timeline of the process
(please check the Consortium website for exact dates; this is meant to give you a sense of when things occur):
-Application deadlines: Round 1 (mid-November), Round 2 (early January)
-Interview Completion Deadline: Round 1 (early November), Round 2 (mid-December)
-When admission decisions are communicated to applicants will vary school by school.
-Fellowship notification for both rounds will occur around mid-March
1. Can you apply if you are not African American, Hispanic American, or Native American?
Yes. The official terms of the application state that you can apply if you are “a U.S citizen or a U.S permanent resident of any race or ethnicity.” However, it is important that you grasp the mission statement and know how to demonstrate your commitment to it. If you are an outstanding applicant in general but cannot demonstrate your commitment to the specific mission statement, you are better off applying outside the Consortium umbrella.
2. Do you still have to interview with the school apart from the Consortium interview?
Yes, if a completed interview is required for admission at that school.
3. Can you transfer Consortium benefits to other schools?
No. You must apply through the Consortium and become a member of the Consortium to enjoy membership benefits at the schools to which you applied.
4. Can you re-rank schools at any point? Are the schools aware of your ranking?
After you submit your application, no, you cannot re-rank the schools. Officially the answer is that no, the schools are not aware of your ranking and the general consensus among applicants is no, the schools are not aware. So don’t second guess the official statement!
5. Are decisions final?
All decisions are final at every point in the process – so do not try to appeal in any way.
6. Can you be granted membership to the Consortium without being granted acceptance to a school to which you applied?
No. See my rundown of the entire process above. You have to pass through Step 2 to get to Step 3.
7. Can you be granted acceptance to a school and be denied acceptance to the Consortium?
Yes. Again, see my rundown of the entire process.
8. How does applying for a Consortium fellowship affect your application to non-Consortium schools?
It won’t affect your chance of winning a merit-based scholarship at any non-Consortium schools. Know that if you applied in Round 1 to any non-Consortium schools (and successfully gain acceptance), your deposit may be due before you find out if you received the fellowship or even acceptance from any Consortium schools. You may be placed in a situation where you have to send in a $3,000 deposit to a school (to lock down your place at that school) before you know if you are admitted to other schools.
Understand that the fellowship notification is in mid-March. Thus, you will find out if you were admitted to the Consortium schools before you find out if you were awarded a fellowship at one. If you plan to attend certain schools only if you are awarded a fellowship, you will be making that decision fairly late in the admissions game. Factor this into any early action or early decision plans you may have.
9. Will applying to the Consortium jeopardize your chance of winning other merit-based fellowships at various schools?
No. You are still eligible for other merit-based fellowships at various schools whether or not you apply to the Consortium.
10. Does applying to more schools through the Consortium process mean that you will have more Consortium interviews?
No, you will have only one Consortium interview, regardless of how many schools you apply to. However, note my answer to Question #2 about interviews.
11. Does membership in the Consortium really help with recruiting or is it just another “professional network”?
The Consortium orientation program occurs in the summer before the MBA programs begin, and some students who attend actually walk away with internships! This is a phenomenal benefit of Consortium membership (as many of us know, the recruiting process can be challenging, especially when balanced with the rigor of MBA coursework).
12. I’m a little confused. Can you gain membership to the Consortium and not win a fellowship?
Yes, please see steps #2 and #3 above. It is definitely possible to gain membership to the Consortium and not win a fellowship. Also remember that if you gain membership to the Consortium, you need to enroll at a Consortium school to enjoy that membership.
Tip for Applicants.
Think through the application timeline carefully and whether or not you truly demonstrate the mission of the Consortium before you apply. It might be helpful to write out a timeline of your personal application schedule to get a sense of whether any of your plans conflict.